Wednesday, 06 July 2011 14:22

Will Sharper, Roaf Be New Orleans Saints Next Hall of Famers?

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There is more talk of whom will someday land in the Pro Football Hall of Fame than there usually is.

Maybe it is the lack of football to talk about outside of the NFL labor dispute. Anyway most fans believe Morten Andersen and Willie Roaf are locks to be voted into the Hall in Canton, Ohio. If Drew Brees has another good season or two, he should be a lock to get voted in.

Darren Sharper's future in the Hall is up for debate.

His numbers with the Packers, Vikings and Saints over the years are comparable to some already in the HOF. If he can continue to stay on the field he will strengthen his argument.
But Sharper is not a lock because he has put up impressive statistics. It's not nearly as easy as you might think to make the HOF when you are a defensive back, especially when you're a safety like Sharper.

Take a look at the list of Hall of Fame members. It's broken down by positions, and defensive backs are one of the most exclusive clubs. When Deion "Prime Time" Sanders goes in later this summer, the HOF will be home to 22 defensive backs. That number includes guys like Sanders who were more than defensive backs. Sanders was a return man, occasionally a wide receiver and, in his prime, one of the most famous athletes on the planet. He also was a major-league outfielder.

Sharper has had an excellent career, but I don't think you can say he's a sure-fire, first-ballot Hall of Famer. If he's going to get in, it might take some more work.

Sharper is still the property of the Saints for the moment, but can become an unrestricted free agent once the lockout is over. We don't know if Sharper will re-sign with the Saints or move on to another team where he could start at free safety. Malcolm Jenkins has that spot locked up with the Saints. If Sharper re-signs with the Saints, he'll have to take a backup's pay, but he has said he wants to stay in New Orleans.

He has already put up huge numbers in a career that's been divided between the Packers, Vikings and Saints.

Sharper has 63 interceptions, the most among active players and No. 6 on the all-time list. He's been to five Pro Bowls and made the all-decade for the 2000’s. But he is a safety, and even spectacular numbers might not be enough.

Some things to consider in Sharper's favor:

* 63 career interceptions (ties with Ronnie Lott) has him at No. 6 on the all-time list.

* 11 interceptions for touchdowns

* Super Bowl ring

Paul Krause, was a Vikings safety with more career interceptions (81) than anyone in history. He went to eight Pro Bowls and made the all-decade team for the 2000’s.

Krause went to eight Pro Bowls, was All-Pro eight times, and put up numbers in an era when teams didn't throw nearly as often as they do now. He finished his playing career in1979, but didn't get into the HOF until 1998.

Krause might have been the best safety ever, but voters haven't given easy passes to guys who were pure safeties. Besides Krause, there are only four other enshrined who played their entire careers at safety. Guys like Lott and Rod Woodson spent much of their careers at safety, but also played some cornerback.

Where ever Sharper plays this season, he needs to keep adding to his numbers to improve his chances at the HOF.

He played some good teams with the Packers and Vikings, but didn't win a Super Bowl until he joined the Saints. Another Super Bowl title, or at least a good playoff run, would help Sharper's biggest strength. With Mark Ingram aboard, the Saints should make a good run in the playoffs.

Working against Sharper is the fact that defensive backs are not the prime picking. The time he missed because of injury in 2010 also does not appear pretty. Imagine the possible numbers had he been able to post another solid season in 2010.

It's not as easy as you might think for a safety to get enshrined at Canton.
Saints coach Sean Payton on quarterback Drew Brees, who came in No. 9 on the NFL Network's "The Top 100: Players of 2011: "He is an elite quarterback for a number of reasons. No. 1, he is a fantastic athlete. He has tremendous feet. He is exceptionally strong and quick with his delivery. He is one of the most accurate passers I have ever seen. He is an equal opportunity distributor, In other words, if you are one of the five eligible receivers in the passing game, you have a chance of getting the football.

"At the quarterback position, you are looking for all those aspects that go into winning football games and you consistently see them with him. Clearly, Drew has a pretty good idea of what we are thinking in regards to situations. He does a great job in the huddle. He is his own worst critic. He is always looking for ways to get better. I would point to one drive in the Super Bowl. It was in the fourth quarter. We needed a score and he was 7-7 on the drive on the biggest spot in the biggest game that there was. We all love to try to find a slot for players and I know his slot is in the best right now. We will let everyone else select where they see these guys fitting, but I love that he is a our quarterback."...

On an on Tuesday, Gil Brandt wrote that he thinks Brett Favre would have an interest in playing in the NFL this season, but there probably isn't a team out there that shares Favre's interest. Everyone is sick of Favre's comeback chatter, and everyone has been sick of Favre comeback chatter since about three Favre comebacks ago. But that doesn't mean the chatter is going away, at least not until the regular season starts without a Favre comeback...

SOME hither, others yon: At $200 million per week in potentially lost revenues, the players and owners have every reason to get this labor dispute settled...If you attended a Saints game or watched one of television last season, you probably remember hearing this more than a few times from a member of the officiating crew: "No. 64 has reported as an eligible receiver." No. 64 is Zach Strief, a backup guard and tackle and a free agent. The Saints used mostly Strief when they went to six-man lines last season and they did it more frequently than all but two NFL teams. The Saints used the six-man front on 105 plays, according to Football Outsiders. That's 10 percent of all their plays...

Of the plays on which they used six offensive linemen, 44 per cent them were pass plays. That's a higher percentage than any team in the league that used the six-man front more than four times. As for other teams in the NFL South, the Falcons were No. 4 in the league with 78 plays where they used six-man fronts, but they only passed of 21 per cent of those plays. The Bucs ranked No. 8 in the league with 23 plays with six offensive linemen. They passed on 22 per cent of those plays...

Parting thought: "If you can remain calm, you just don't have all the facts.".


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by Ed Staton

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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography. | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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